One might expect to leave an Upfront event with a swag bag, but Katelyn Ballegeer, a video investment manager on the Target account at Essence, came home from Crown Media Family Networks’ Upfront with something much more special.
In support of Hallmark Channel’s Adoption Ever After initiative, adoptable dogs from North Shore Animal League were onsite at the Rainbow Room, where Crown Media Family Networks held its annual Upfront presentation and demonstrated its success as The Worldwide Leader in Celebrations. “I had met with my rep earlier that day for a meeting and she let our team know there would be puppies there,” Katelyn explained. She immediately called her fiancé, Brett, to see if they might consider adopting a dog if she found “the perfect pup.”
Even with Brett’s blessing, Katelyn did not actually think she would be taking a dog home that night. But then, along came Maizy. (The happy family is pictured at top.)
“She was the first dog I saw when I got upstairs [to the Rainbow Room],” Katelyn recalled. “Her coloring was what got to me; she is this beautiful blonde and her nose and face are black. She let me hold her and just nuzzled right up to my shoulder and neck.” Mission accomplished. Katelyn sent word to Brett and he and his mother – a huge animal lover -- were prepared to drive immediately into the city from their home in Putnam County to pick up Katelyn and the puppy.
During that time, friends and family (save for Brett’s eager mother) tried to talk the couple out of it. “We were moving and have a wedding in July, so everyone thought we should wait, but I just knew she was ‘our’ dog,” Katelyn said. Once their dog arrived, the naysayers couldn’t help but fall in love with her. “From the second she walked in the door she was home.”
Picking the right name to capture the playful, peppy personality of their new pet proved to be a difficult task. She remained nameless for a couple of days as Brett and Katelyn tested some ideas, but then, “she was having a bit of the zoomies and out of my mouth I said ‘She’s crazy … crazy Maizy.’ And it stuck! So, our beautiful, crazy little blondie is Maizy Schmitt.”
Maizy Schmitt has quickly become an important -- maybe the most important -- member of the family. “Our nieces and nephews just adore her,” Katelyn said. “They don’t care if we come to their house anymore. It’s only, ‘Where’s Maizy?’” She offered Kristen Bell as Maizy’s celebrity equivalent. “She’s spunky, funny, kind and everyone loves her.”
Maizy’s story attests to the fact that finding the perfect pet does not have to involve a pedigree. Hallmark Channel's Adoption Ever After initiative is committed to finding forever homes for shelter pets, but also educating audiences on the epidemic of pet homelessness. Katelyn’s experience adopting Maizy was certainly an educational one. “I wasn’t aware of how bad [pet homelessness] truly was until after we met with the shelter and saw all the dogs there,” she recalled. “I just wish I could take them all home.” Katelyn made particular mention of learning about shelter overcrowding in the South where dog overpopulation is particularly bad, driven by warmer weather, less regulation around loose dogs and poverty levels that contribute to fewer dogs being spayed or neutered.
Katelyn now considers herself an adoption advocate. “[Adopting Maizy] has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” she said.
While Upfront presentations traditionally pitch products, Hallmark Channel also pitched its purpose -- all the better for Katelyn, Brett and little Maizy.
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